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October 02, 2008

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I suspect when more of the facts of the American story in Iraq filter out, we'll find that State and the Pentagon have been at loggerheads, and that in fact a great deal of diplomatic activity preceded the Surge, including forging some kind of agreement with the Iranians that led to the Iranians brokering the Maliki-Sadr ceasefire. Whether the Iranians subsequently felt like they were burned on that deal or not, I don't know. I'd say Tehran is waiting for 4 Nov like the rest of us in any case to plot their next move.

Mind you, I could be judging the Pentagon harshly. It might also just not be worth it for people like Petreus, whose political ambitions or lack thereof I've found hard to read, to correct the record of those politicians with a vested interest in the Surge storyline (primarily McCain). It's not clear to me whether Petreus is just McCain's boy at this point, or whether he's actually not all that comfortable with being his informal running-mate.

Either way, if Obama wins, I expect Petreus to be 'promoted' out of anyplace where he can interfere in the briefest amount of time that might still be considered seemly.

I was actually a bit disappointed in Obama in the first debate when he didn't hammer on this a bit more. The general point is pretty clear -- invading Iraq has installed a pro-Iran government, which would seem to be a strategic error, not a tactical one ;-).

I wonder if that general point is somehow considered radioactive by the Obama camp, however.

Btw, Petreus may well be a fine commander. But his counter-insurgency manual was not in the slightest bit original, and I happen to doubt the Surge's primacy in recent events, so without meaning to criticise the man, I do think his new reputation as counter-insurgent-mastermind is basically a classic example of politicians bolstering support for a crappy war by inventing a hero.

Then again, I've been drinking with Europeans.

Drinking with Europeans will do it every time. Petreus was a heck of a division commander. But his command in Iraq and the surge itself was more good timing than anything else. It may be the boy's been promoted once too often.

"Symptomatically, the decision by one relatively minor and office-seeking Sunni group to revert to their role in the government before the summer is spinned as 'a welcome sign of re-engagement by Sunni Arabs at the national level' on p. 1."

Argh! Spun. It's is spun. Not "is spinned."

On substance, I pointed out in another thread yesterday Alissa Rubin's piece on the factional fighting in Iraq.

Over on Afghanistan: oops.

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